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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chiang Mai: Wat Up, Wat's Happening

Happy 2554 from Thailand! My trip to the train station last weekend turned out to be a complete success as they had added another train to Chiang Mai leaving that night and there were 2 seats available in the sleeper cars.  I must say, Thailand's trains are actually quite nice, and it was an easy 12 hour overnight trip to the north of Thailand.  Chiang Mai was my favorite spot in Thailand when I first visited in 2004 so I was eager to get back and see it again, and it most certainly did not disappoint.

Some highlights...

  • Khao Soi: This food is a regional speciality in Northern Thailand and Laos, it features egg noodles in coconut milk curry, lime, and other spices.  It is completely delicious and my favorite dish so far in Thailand.
  • Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market: Named one of the world's greatest flea markets, this Sunday night bazaar was seriously overwhelming in size, I spent 3 hours walking up and down streets spending Baht like it was my job, and still didn't see everything.  It's full of handicrafts by the Hmong people, jewelry (I literally bought more than 20 bracelets, mai pen rai), paintings, t-shirts, postcards, wire crafts, teak wood decorations, and so, so much more.  
  • Wats and Monk Chat: Chiang Mai streets are full of Wats (Buddhist temples), they are all so ornate and beautiful, most of them literally sparkle all day long in the sunlight.  Also, due to the many universities in Chiang Mai, including a few that cater to monks, many of the wats feature "monk chat."  Monk chat is an opportunity for the monks to practice their English with foreign tourists and for the tourists to learn more about life as a monk.  We had some great chats with monks from Laos and Cambodia, and it was really interesting to learn more about their daily lives - no meals after lunch - no wonder they are all so thin!
  • Cool weather: I actually felt cold for the first time since arriving in Thailand, at night it would get into the 60's - and it felt freezing to me! I guess I am adjusting to my new climate.
  • Ringing in the New Year 2011/2554: I'm not normally such a fan of New Year's Eve but this was definitely my best one yet.  I loved ringing in a new year in one of my favorite cities in the world.  I rocked a 2011 headband (Thanks Kim for sending!!) and celebrated the countdown with Nell and some fellow backpackers while listening to the live performance of the famous Thai pop group "Potato".  I also had a chance to light a lantern and send it up to the sky with my wishes/resolutions for 2011, number one on the list: Learn Thai! 


  1. You and Nell are unbelievable :-) ♥

  2. great post, the coconut curry and lantern lighting sounds amazing. I will be honest, I had never heard of Chiang Mai before 2010, but yours is just the latest blog to really rave about it.

    Happy New Year from STL!


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